I first saw Phantom of the Paradise on Star Movies about half a century ago. I remember nothing of that now save for the fact that the film was deliciously bizarre. When Muthu said that he’d seen it and loved it, I said fuck! Muthu liked Magnolia, so there’s no telling what he likes. Luckily for me though, my video library has a poor selection of good films and so having exhausted all other possibilities save for “Mujhse Shaadi Karogi”, Phantom suddenly seemed liked a great choice. And my word, what a great choice it was.
Brian de Palma’s weird and dark look at the music business and his reworking of Faust/Phantom of the Opera is one that will definitely appeal to those who look for something out of the ordinary in cinema. This is another movie filled with fantastic storytelling and bizarre sequences. The prison escape, the disfigurement, Beef and his death are all sequences of intense weirdness. The Phantom is brilliant, funny and likeable and then immediately afterwards totally pathetic. Swan is brilliantly played by Paul Williams, who also wrote all the songs in the movie. Phoenix is simply beautiful. When she sings that song at the audition where she finally gets to sing she looks so heart-stoppingly lovely, vulnerable yet strong. This is a no-holds-barred plotline which gladly accepts and even celebrates the bizarre and unusual, leaving you constantly wonderstruck at the director’s vision.
Two thumbs simply aren’t enough for this movie.